In practical terms the purpose of the foreign language requirement is to prepare students to read literary and critical works in languages other than English. However, departmental faculty believe that there is also an intrinsic value in linguistic study for anyone seriously interested in literature. Students in the Ph.D. program are expected to have a reading knowledge of any two foreign languages, or to demonstrate a superior proficiency in a single language. Examinations requiring translation of literary and critical passages are offered by the department each quarter in French, German, and Spanish and once a year in Italian. Other languages are acceptable as long as comparable examinations can be arranged by the student in another UCLA department.
A basic reading knowledge of a language may be established in one of the following ways: (1) by passing a special reading examination offered by the English Department or certain UCLA foreign language departments; (2) by passing the special reading course for graduate students offered by various language departments, e.g. Italian 1G, German 1G or French 1G; (3) by passing with a letter grade of B or higher the elementary language course offered by various language departments, e.g. Spanish 3, Japanese 3, Persian1C, or by passing a higher level language course which requires an elementary course as a prerequisite; (4) by passing with a letter grade of B or higher the summer intensive language course offered by various language departments, e.g., Arabic 8, French 8 or Latin 16; (5) by passing with a letter grade of B or higher English 211, Old English; (6) by passing with a letter grade of B or higher an upper-division or graduate level course in the literature (not in translation) of the language. Students may petition to have prior coursework counted as fulfillment of the requirement, but work done more than two years before entering the program is not ordinarily accepted.
The first language requirement must be satisfied during the first two years in the program, and the second before the student is admitted to the Second Qualifying Examination. Students choosing the single-language option (superior proficiency) must first demonstrate a basic reading knowledge of that language during the first or second year of the program in any one of the ways described above. They may then proceed to demonstrate superior proficiency, before taking the Second Qualifying Examination, in one of two ways: (1) by successful completion (letter grade B or higher) of three more upper-division or graduate courses in the literature (not in translation) of the foreign language (such courses must be approved by the Vice Chair, must be in areas related to the student's specialization, and must not have been completed more than two years before entrance into the Ph.D. program); or (2) by passing an examination administered by the English Department. Students electing the latter option are expected to demonstrate a knowledge of the foreign language (and literature) comparable to that which might be obtained by taking the three upper-division or graduate courses.